Obituary of Janet Holtby
Janet Elizabeth (Betty) Holtby nee Gill was born March 3, 1924, in Grenville QC to the large, expanding family of parents Harold and Annie Gill. Betty passed away peacefully in Kanata, early on March 8, 2023. Mom celebrated her 99th birthday shortly before passing on the 8th of March. Her granddaughters, Jodi and Jen, (Judy’s daughters) were lovingly there with her and stayed to see her off. Mom was predeceased by Dad, husband, Larry (Lollie to all the ’kids’) , her Daughter, my little sister, Judy Holtby, her granddaughter Angela Williamson (Annie), all her brothers, Walter, Dave, Leslie, Bobby, Gordon, Don, Art and Jimmy, and her older sister, Irene. Survived by her younger sister, Norma, for another 8 days, Betty and Norma’s passing marked the end of their LARGE generation of siblings. Betty is survived also by her Sisters in law Thelma (Dave) and Bev (Don), Daughter Ann Dee/Annie (Peter), Grandchildren Jodi (David), Jennifer (Dennis), Shannon (Mark), Jodi (Mike), Jill (John), Great Grandchildren McKayla (Jodi T), Sean, Kena, Wyatt, Garret (Jodi M), Callie , Emmalee, Jack (Angela), Sarah, Amber (Shannon), William, Dylan, Scarlett (Jill), Great Greats Hudson and Luke (Kena/Kevin), Lana, Daniel (Sarah/Jihad), Ethan (Amber/Jesse) and her First cousin on Grandma Gill’s side, Heather (Ian). Lots of nephews and nieces, both Gill and Holtby sides and now their kids and their kids’ kids and their kids’ kids’ kids – life goes on, thankfully, blessedly.
Starting in Grenville, Betty moved with her family to Marcil Avenue in Montreal, graduated from Montreal High School for Girls and married Lollie on June 2, 1945, when he returned from WWII, having served in the RCAF. They went west to Abbotsford for a year with the Airforce where Dad was a trainer. They returned East and Dad started to work with Bell and Annie was born. Three years later, Judy was born. In Montreal there were friends and family galore. Summers were spent in everybody’s favourite cottage country - Lac des Plages – Betty and Lollie met in Lac des Plages where the Holtbys had a cottage on the other side of the lake. I was two weeks old my first time up at the lake. I call that 5-star Parenting! All Gills and Holtbys have that common experience. In the old days, women and kids went to the lake for the summer and the men went up weekends and their two weeks of summer vacation. That was also where Betty met her best friend of over 90 years – Lois Reilley, nee Dent. Both fathers were in the lumber business and Grandpa bought the cottageproperty from Clearance Dent. Another priceless thing about Lac des Plages. Best of friends. Best of cousins. Best place to be in summer. A few years ago, Norma came up from Long Island with Pat and they and Betty went up to Lac des Plages for a final goodbye.
Working for Bell, Dad was transferred a few times, because he was French speaking, born in Hawkesbury, he went from Montreal to Ottawa in 1952, from Ottawa to Cornwall in 1958 and back to Ottawa in1970 till retirement and beyond. No further west. Through the years Mom made our home, wherever it was, cosy and welcoming to family and friends. Not working, she was the gardener, the painter, the seamstress, the chef, the baker, the canner – mmmm, those strawberry jams. And she had a great eye for needlepoint! Bridge, Golfing, Curling and friendships took up their Cornwall years with an introduction to Florida. Once retired in Ottawa, Florida became their Winter destination in New Smyrna, in the same community as the Reilleys for quite a few years. They’d also managed to get out to BC a number of times and Mom continued to go out for visits every couple of years after Dad passed even once by bus with Jen and once by plane with Jodi.
I’d say Bridge held Betty’s heart and mind over these years as well; once back in Ottawa, she and Lois played in St Matthew’s Church Marathon Bridge for years. Being part of Jodi and Jen’s childhood was also a big thing for both grandparents following and supporting their passions in hockey and soccer especially, and into their adult years. When Lollie passed, Betty continued to be close to the girls to her last day. They’ve been awesome!
That said, when Judy passed, Mom’s grief was tempered when Jodi offered her a permanent home in her and David’s new home in Almonte. Mom was in her 90’s at this point and became frailer in the last number of years with Covid playing its loneliness card, and the fall that ended with a broken wrist ended her independence. Forest Hill, a lovely Long Term Care Residence in Kanata, was her home for the last year and a quarter of her life. We thank them for their kindness, their compassion and knowledgeable care, for making her last days as comfortable as they could. A good life, a full life. Friends and family through the transfer years, the up to and including the retirement years with the community at 2400 Carling which included oldest nephew John and wife Annie, neighbour and good friend Isabel, a happy marriage that lasted 50 years before Dad passed, all the photo memories (before cell phones), all the stories, all the birthdays, all the love and all the laughter they shared. Mom/Grams/Auntie/ Betty – you are already deeply missed and are always in our hearts.